23rd September

Wild Atlantic Way - Ireland's 2,500km coastal route

The ‘longest coastal touring route in the world’, stretching from Malin Head in Co Donegal to the Old Head of Kinsale in Co Cork, was launched today and has been benchmarked against the Gold Coast in Australia; South Africa’s Garden Route and the Pacific Coast Highway in the United States.

The 2,500 km Wild Atlantic Way is an initiative of Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland and is a key element of their 2014 overseas marketing campaign, with interest already coming from Germany and Austria’s leading tour operator Dertour and CIE Tours International in North America.

Mizen Head Wild Atlantic Way

Mizen Head, West Cork

Sean Quinn, Fáilte Ireland’s chief executive sees the initiative as “repositioning Ireland for overseas visitors”. He added that international experience showed that packaging and branding assets into defined touring routes increased visits from domestic and international visitors.

“Touring routes help attract more people, get them to stay longer, make more repeat visits and spend more money, often in rural areas.”

Launching the Wild Atlantic Way, Michael Ring, Minister of State for Tourism and Sport promised visitors the “journey of a lifetime” that will take them through some of Ireland’s most beautiful places along the western seaboard. “But most of all, people are our best product,” he said.

Fáilte Ireland will work with tourism operators and local communities to ensure they can engage with the opportunities presented and to assist them in “telling and selling and in bringing their stories to life along the route,” remarked Fiona Monaghan, Fáilte Ireland’s Head of the Wild Atlantic Way.

She added that local community involvement would be “critical to success. The enthusiasm out there is impressive, not only among tourism businesses but also in the wide community. The key to success will be authenticity - not just in places but also the people.”

The tourism body emphasised this would be a ‘long-term evolving development project’, beginning with the route and 15 ‘Signature Discovery Points’. Of these, three are already established (Sliabh Liag, Co Donegal; the Cliffs of Moher, Co Clare and Mizen Head, Co Cork). In conjunction with the relevant local authorities, Fáilte Ireland is assessing and prioritising the remaining 12 sites in terms of development.

The Wild Atlantic Way will also feature 159 ‘Discovery Points’ supported by investment of €2m from a €10m budget in 2014. These points are distinct sites, large and small but chosen for their potential to offer visitors an authentic and intimate experience of the natural and wild landscape and seascape. Ireland’s 26 offshore west coast islands are included as ‘Discovery Points’, each of which will have branded ‘Embarkation Points’ to provide direction and access to the islands.

Fáilte Ireland is also working in partnership with the National Roads Authority and the ten local authorities to erect 3,850 distinctive Wild Atlantic Way ‘zig-zag/chevron’ branded signs.

Domestic market

The project will be promoted on the home market through the Discover Ireland brand. Domestic tourism generates more than €1.3bn annually and Irish tourists account for 75% of hotel bed nights. A specially designed Wild Atlantic Way app will be available by the end of June. All businesses along the route encourage visitors to download the app to ensure they maximise their particular experience.

“Unlike The Gathering, the Wild Atlantic Way is not a ‘one-off’ but rather an evolving project that will build and develop over the years. With its capacity to drive extra visitor footfall, mobilise communities and showcase the best of this country, the Wild Atlantic Way is set to be one of the most significant developments in modern Irish tourism and to be a significant engine of regeneration for rural Ireland,” Minister Ring concluded.

The highlights

  • Europe’s last Atlantic frontier
  • Wild and rugged untamed natural beauty
  • Dramatic land and seascapes
  • World famous views and sites
  • Unique and ancient heritage
  • A living traditional Gaelic culture evidenced in music, games, dance and crafts
  • Defiant settlements and strongholds
  • Creative and inspiring people
  • Cultural festivals and celebrations
  • Captivating experiences
  • An abundance of quality, local food experiences
  • Invigorating land and water-based activities
  • A passionate and welcoming Irish tourism industry
  • Unique, great value experiences
  • Excellent access – air,  ferry, road and rail





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